In the Ligurian town of Rapallo, along the northern coast of Italy, three brothers are making a name for themselves and their restaurant.. They attract a diverse crowd at their popular place called K2—but that’s only the beginning. More than a mere meal, what really happens behind the driving beat, the flashing big screens, the delicious food and great conversation is a real Italian experience—Sicilian style!
While visiting the famous and beautiful coastal towns of Portofino, Rapallo and Santa Margherita, we discovered that the main attraction for us was the restaurant, K2 (Rocco e i Suoi Fratelli, Rocco and his brothers). Here the brothers Costanzo charm your socks off, and give you a first-class lesson in following dreams and values. Our first dinner was a magical evening that made the visit not only fun, but memorable—perhaps even life-changing.
They were booked to the rafters on Sunday evening. We had casually asked Elisabetta at the hotel for a recommendation and she didn’t hesitate: K2. But without a reservation, there was nothing to do but wait. Rocco immediately appeared and insisted that we relax with a drink “on the house,” along with a few scrumptuous hors d’oeuvres they whipped up as a little extra bonus just for us. By the time we got to our table, we were already fully engaged in the lively atmosphere. Everybody seemed to be having fun, including the table of 10 girls and 1 guy celebrating a birthday. What a lucky guy!
We were seated only an arm’s length away from the celebration and within minutes we were talking and laughing with a young Albanian woman, Blerina. She quickly pointed out and then introduced us to Emma—the 16 year old birthday celebrant. After some time, they handed Emma a large gift-wrapped box! Wow! What a gift! Then as the paper and ribbon fell away, she discovered another box inside, and then another, and then another. We all joined in the laughter and fun as she finally made her way to the special gift from her friends. As if we were at a long-awaited family reunion, I snapped pics right and left. They were all so beautiful, bright and energetic, it sparked renewed hope for the future.
Then Rocco appeared at our table to chat a bit. He explained that he and his brothers feel like they’re helping take care of those kids—part of the extended family of sorts. They feel a sense of responsibility to help them have fun but also be safe during their lively, impressionable years. He definitely got our attention with his honesty and sincerity. A great way to start!
Sensing there was a story begging to be told, I asked if he and his brothers could pause long enough to gather around for a few pictures. “Certo, Sure!” he replied, and within minutes they were all smiles—each one nicer than the other.
Over the course of our 3-hour dinner, we had various conversations with Rocco, exchanging views of soccer, politics, Prime Minister Berlusconi‘s recent resignation and impressions of the US. Wandering through the diverse topics, we picked up the consistent thread of values—respect, hard work, responsibility and family.
Toward the end of our meal, we offered to send Bierina the link to this story. Cheryl handed over her iPad and Bierina typed in her address. As if called, Rocco came over, toting his own tablet. He declared that he couldn’t get along without it. He even bought a second one for the restaurant so friends and customers could use them when they drop in for a drink or dinner. We were amazed at how technically savvy they were.
As we shared stories about Apple, Rocco mentioned his new book. That’s right, a BOOK. It would be published within the next couple of weeks and he promised to mail us a copy. Of course, we offered to buy the book, but he insisted on sending it to the States as a gift. Incredible! It seems that he’s written about 20 books for his own enjoyment over the years, and a friend encouraged him to begin publishing, saying that his stories were really good and needed to be heard. What a great friend!
As we stepped through the door, even though it was midnight we were all jazzed up by the K2 experience, and couldn’t stop talking about it. Somewhere within the music, the kids, the philosophy, the brothers and the great food, there was a story about real people who care deeply and make a difference. It’s a story about taking big risks, moving from the Sicilian homeland to the Ligurian coast to create a fresh start. It’s a tale of bold dreams built on timeless values and family spirit. But also, it’s a story about different people and cultures sitting down at the table together—finding common ground and kindred spirits
Perhaps we all celebrated a birthday of sorts on that November evening at K2. It was one of those experiences that left us a little more grounded and centered, and at the same time more spirited and enthusiastic. Thanks to the brothers Costanzo!
After just finishing my post on Monterosso Al Mare, I come here and read your post! Oh my goodness! The desire to sell everything I own and run away into the Tuscan hills is so overwhelming in me right now! 🙂 Thank you for sharing this.
MJ — When you decide to “run away into the Tuscan hills,” look us up. The first caffè will be on us! Ciao
What a beautiful young birthday girl, and what a beautiful above and beyond restaurant experience!